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Study: To improve memory and thinking skills, try the Mediterranean diet with added olive oil and nuts

Mediterranean-Diet

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Mediterranean diet may help counteract age-related declines in memory and thinking skills (Harvard Health Blog):

“A new study in this week’s JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that eating a Mediterranean-style diet enhanced with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts is good for your mind as well as your heart.

The participants were mostly in their 60s and 70s and were at risk for developing heart disease…They were divided into three groups: one followed a Mediterranean-type diet and also ate an extra ounce of mixed nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds) a day; another followed a Mediterranean-type diet and also ate an extra five tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil a day; the third group, which served as the control, followed a low-fat diet.

In the control group, average scores on both types of tests — memory and thinking skills — fell during those four years. By comparison, average scores on the memory tests improved among those following the Mediterranean-type diet with extra servings of nuts, while scores on the tests of thinking skills improved among those following the Mediterranean diet with extra servings of olive oil.”

Study: Mediterranean Diet and Age-Related Cognitive Decline: A Randomized Clinical Trial (JAMA Internal Medicine)

  • IMPORTANCE: Oxidative stress and vascular impairment are believed to partly mediate age-related cognitive decline, a strong risk factor for development of dementia. Epidemiologic studies suggest that a Mediterranean diet, an antioxidant-rich cardioprotective dietary pattern, delays cognitive decline, but clinical trial evidence is lacking.
  • OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether a Mediterranean diet supplemented with antioxidant-rich foods influences cognitive function compared with a control diet.
  • INTERVENTIONS: Participants were randomly assigned to a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extravirgin olive oil (1 L/wk), a Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts (30 g/d), or a control diet (advice to reduce dietary fat).
  • MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Rates of cognitive change over time based on a neuropsychological test battery: Mini-Mental State Examination, Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test (RAVLT), Animals Semantic Fluency, Digit Span subtest from the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, Verbal Paired Associates from the Wechsler Memory Scale, and the Color Trail Test.
  • CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: In an older population, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil or nuts is associated with improved cognitive function.

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